The New Orleans Saints often have too many running backs on their roster, but simultaneously, not enough.
They always seem to have two or three talented backs, but they haven’t been able to find that featured back. Granted, an offense led by Drew Brees doesn’t need an elite player in the backfield, which is great news for the likes of Khiry Robinson. The Saints 24-year old running back showed flashes in playoff games against the Seahawks and Eagles in 2013, and with Darren Sproles out of the picture and Mark Ingram continuing to underwhelm, Robinson is in for a larger role in 2014.
The Saints Offense
In 2013, four different running backs carried the ball at least 15 percent of the time for the Saints. That’s a very telling number, and the assumption is that Robinson will be used even more this year. I’m looking at his touchdown and pass-catching potential, however. Led by Brees, the Saints offense tends to march down the field, resulting in plenty of scoring opportunities. That’s great for a bowling ball type of runner like Robinson, who can bully his way into the end zone. And if history tells us anything, he’ll have plenty of chances to do just that.
New Orleans obviously has one of the most explosive offensive units in the game today, so it’s no question why they have ranked inside the top-10 in red zone attempts each of the last four seasons. Brees kills opposing defenses with his arm, and then when they are up close, there is little anyone can do to stop them. Now, Pierre Thomas is still by far the best back of this group, and he is going to see the field the most, but that isn’t to say Robinson won’t be relevant, especially with Brees under center. Last season, Brees targeted the running backs and tight ends on 63 percent of his passes, compared to just 37 percent to the guys who typically do most of the catching, the wideouts. I mean, just look at some of these target numbers from the backs. In three seasons with the Saints, Sproles averaged 101. targets, while Thomas has been targeted at least 50 times in each of the last three years, including a career-high 84 targets a season ago. Brees is the best intermediate and screen passer in the entire NFL, so it’s no wonder his running backs see success catching the ball out of the backfield.
Drawing comparisons to the great Curtis Martin, Robinson has enough speed to matter, but his power is what makes him dangerous. Consider him a sleeper for fantasy purposes.
Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson.